The small Jewish community in Greece is struggling to survive the financial shock waves rocking Greece. Under normal circumstances, it's not easy being a Jew there, where superstitions pervade and conspiracy theories and antisemitism link Jews to every misfortune in the world.
That state of affairs has only worsened in today's atmosphere of violence and rage in Europe. Within the kehilloh people say the financial crisis has added the economic problem to the list. The cutbacks, austerity and unemployment struck the 7,500-strong Jewish community just like the general population.
A Jewish Chronicle writer, reporting from Athens, notes that the tzedokoh funds and mutual aid societies have run dry. The local Jewish institutions rely on donations by its own members, which have dwindled due to the recession. The level of services within the Jewish community has decreased due to a lack of cash flow.
Benjamin Albalas, president of the Jewish community of Athens, says the number of family events is down because people cannot afford to pay. "People in the kehilloh have not paid their annual membership dues used to fund religious and educational services," said Rabbi Yitzchak Mezan.
Meanwhile, many Jews facing financial difficulties are asking for help from the synagogue or community organizations. Jewish businesses, which focus primarily on real estate, suffered a blow from the decline in the real estate market. Selling and rental prices have gone down drastically due to a lack of demand.
"Many leasers of commercial properties are asking us to lower their rent by 30 percent or they leave the rental agreement due to a lack of resources after going bankrupt," says Albalas.
The young members of the kehilloh are unable to find work and are worried. He says the community tries to help young unemployed people find employment.